Hannah Campbell is one of two Chilliwack girls competing in the BC Summer Games equestrian events. The Games started Thursday and continue through Sunday in Nanaimo.

Hannah Campbell is one of two Chilliwack girls competing in the BC Summer Games equestrian events. The Games started Thursday and continue through Sunday in Nanaimo.

Test of trust for vaulters at BC Summer Games

Chilliwackians Hannah Campbell and Deseray Smith will tackle BC's best in Nanaimo as the BC Summer Games get started.

They’ll never get the limelight they deserve.

They’ll toil in obscurity, loved, respected and recognized only by those who are closest to them.

When the medals are handed out, they’ll be somewhere else, perhaps munching on hay.

They are the horses, and they don’t particularly care for glory.

All they care about is whether they get their food, exercise and a little care and attention. But when two Chilliwack girls enter the arena for the BC Winter Games vaulting competition this weekend in Nanaimo, the horses will play an essential role.

“When the horse is moving in a canter, he’s moving like this,” said Deseray Smith, moving her hand in a rhythmic  up-and-down fashion. “You have to be like that too, be connected with the horse. Be one with the horse. You get the wind in your hair and you feel free.”

Vaulting is a sport in which athletes perform gymnastics/acrobatics on horseback.

As the horse moves around the arena,  Smith and Hannah Campbell will whirl and twirl, flinging their legs and arms this way and that.

All the while, they’ll be trusting their horse to not turn suddenly, rear back or do anything else unexpected.

Smith is lucky to be riding Cetoma.

Though she now trains in Aldergrove, the Mt. Slesse middle school student used to train at Chilliwack’s Bit Crazy Boarding Stable, and knows this horse well.

“He’s my buddy, the first horse I ever vaulted on,” she said. “I learned all my new moves with him. He can be a bit of a goof sometimes.”

Every horse has its personality quirks, just like a human. Cetoma is friendly, patient and calm, which is great for vaulting.

“He’s got these big, big lips and whenever you feed him a treat he sucks your whole hand in there,” Deseray laughed. “Whenever you tickle his lips he smiles. It’s so funny. Hilarious.”

Before a competition, they’ll share some relaxing time doing light practice drills. When it’s game time she’ll watch as his ears perk up as he gets serious.

“He knows when it’s time,” Smith said. “He knows, ‘OK. I’ve really got to smarten up and be really good for this.’ When he gets into the arena and sees all the people, he becomes a lot smoother than he usually is.”

After a competition, Smith will spend a few more quiet moments with him.

“I’ll tell him he’s a good boy and scratch behind his ears, because horses can’t reach their ears,” she said. “I’ll rub his chest because he can’t reach that either, and he’ll stretch his neck up really tall and do that lip thing.”

Smith goes to Nanaimo as a wildcard entry.

She narrowly missed qualifying as one of the top two in her zone, and was supremely disappointed when she thought she’d missed out.

“I was really disappointed, but then my uncles and aunts came over for a family dinner,” Smith said. “And my mom was keeping it a surprise that I’d been picked in a draw to go as a wildcard entry. I texted all my friends right after saying, ‘I made it! I made it!’”

Campbell, the second local at the Games, had a similar reaction when she got the good news. In an odd twist, she’s competing for the Thompson-Okanagan zone, listed as a Merritt native because her dad lives there.

But she trains at Crazy Bit.

Campbell has a trickier task than Smith. Both will ride in the level-D canter division, but  Campbell will compete on at least one semi-unfamiliar horse.

Cetoma and Tristan are the familiar ones — Campbell describes Tristan as stubborn, and a bit rude.

“He used to be the boss of all the horses, but now Promise is,” she laughed.

Promise is another Crazy Bit regular, but Campbell’s only been on that horse a couple times. Like Cetoma, Promise has a rep for being calm and cooperative.

“I’ve heard we’ll have a pretty good warmup, and I think it’ll be fine,” Campbell said.

Like Smith, Campbell was super excited when she found she’d made the BC Summer Games.

“I jumped around a lot,” she smiled.

So much so that her mom worried she might injure herself.

“It’s a really big achievement,” Campbell said. “And it took a lot of practices and competitions to get it.”

Both girls are looking forward to the pomp and pageantry of the Games, which include more than 2,500 athletes ages 11-18, competing in 19 different sports.

But it’s a double-edged sword.

Maintaining proper focus with all the hoopla that surrounds them will be difficult.

“Before I compete I close my eyes and think about what I have to do,” Campbell said. “I’ll really, really have to concentrate because there’s going to be a lot going on.”

Each girl has different expectations heading into the Games.

Smith carries a bit of a chip on her shoulder, wanting to prove that she’s more than a wildcard.

Campbell is happy to soak up the experience and hopefully get a personal best.

“I don’t know what to expect, really,” Campbell said. “I think the arena will be very nice and I think it will be a great experience.”

See bcgames.org for info.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chris Squires of The Wack Window Cleaning Company has created the #100housechallenge where he’ll be cleaning the exterior windows of 100 homes for free when an interior window cleaning service is purchased and a food item is donated to Wilma’s Transition Society. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack window cleaner ready to donate to Wilma’s through #100housechallenge campaign

Chris Squires enjoys providing service, wants to express it via donations, giving back to community

A cyclist was struck at the intersection of Prest and Bailey roads in Chilliwack on Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Cyclist struck by SUV in Chilliwack

Incident happened at Prest and Bailey roads around 2:45 p.m. Saturday

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired Mission teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Alan Sweet taught in school district for 10 years, investigators seeking further witnesses

B.C. RCMP Lower Mainland District officer, Asst. Commissioner Stephen Thatcher presents RCMP blankets to (from left) Chief James Hobart, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Derek Epp and Chief Mark Point. (RCMP)
Historic agreement between Fraser Valley FN communities, RCMP to expand Indigenous role in policing

Community Safety Agreement builds relationship of ‘trust, communication and prevention,’ says Chief

Canadian Reformed Church in Chilliwack. (GoogleMaps)
OPINION: Churches that defy the law and public health orders are in the extreme minority

The nature of news coverage means that aberrations from the norm are what make the headlines

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead on Vancouver Island in ‘targeted incident’

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read